This is the essay I submitted to the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome & Associated Disorders (NJCTS) for their 2014 Children’s Scholarship Award contest. I hope you enjoy it!
“l’ve been from the bottom of the deepest and darkest abyss, to the top of the highest and brightest mountain” (from the book “Against Medical Advice” by fames Patterson and Hal Freidman). This quote is a great description of what it has been like living with Tourette Syndrome for most of my life.
Since my diagnosis at the age of 3, my TS has caused me much trouble, stress, and difficulty, TS has caused me to be bullied, to get in trouble at school, and to have an almost impossible time focusing. Good behavior? Sitting still? Forget it! TS didn’t allow me to have it.
Tourette Syndrome changed my life by teaching me how to persevere and overcome very painful (almost torturous) life obstacles. My tics were very disruptive and painful for most of my childhood and early teens. For example, I would bite my thumb, my neck would twitch constantly, and I would scream in the middle of class. My muscles would become exhausted, would ache, and would cause me continuous physical pain.
My sleep was impacted due to the muscle pain, tics, and exhaustion. I would lay awake at night crying because I couldn’t sleep or was in pain. When I began taking medication as a young child, I had negative side effects such as extreme drowsiness, weight gain, increased appetite, and loss of memory. I also struggled with OCD, which played a big role in making the TS worse because I would feel the need to continue certain tics after the initial tic urge went away.
Along with the physical pain, TS hurt my social life.